Central Albertans opened their hearts and their wallets to the Open Minds Walk and Run this weekend, with the event raising more than $30,000.
It’s the second year for the revamped event, which raised $17,000 last year.
The money will go to maintain and expand programs at the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, which helps people with schizophrenia and related mental illnesses, as well as their families.
“I’m just on Cloud 9 right now to see how many people are here,” said Shannon Van Parys, manager of Schizophrenia Society of Alberta Fund Development.
“It means so much to know that the hard work that we do is noticed in the community and that the community is open to it, and welcome to it, and willing to show it by supporting us.”
The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta used to hold the Walk the World for Schizophrenia event, which was attended mainly by families of those living with schizophrenia. The not-for-profit organization decided to open it up to the community, adding a 5K and 10K run. This year the event drew more than 100 people.
“Looking at the faces of the families here who are supporting a loved one with schizophrenia. You can’t even put into words what it means for them to feel support from the community because they often can feel that they’re alone,” Van Parys said.
“To see people here that have no real connection to schizophrenia, but are willing to support them it just means more to them than anything they could do.”
Jenny Baich was at the event with her daughter, son and son’s friends, who were all a part of Team Semi-Pro. The team members were decked out in colourful sweatbands and basketball jerseys, similar to Will Ferrell in the movie of the same name. Their enthusiasm won them the Team Spirit Award.
Baich has a family member with schizophrenia and she thought it was important to support the cause.
“It makes me feel blessed to know that there are people out there willing to care about something that doesn’t get the best press,” Baich said.
“It’s a special feeling and I’m grateful for everyone who showed up here today.”
Lenore Harris raised the most money for an individual at $2,200, Team Sweet and Sweaty raised the most for a team at more than $2,700. Enrique Cruz Ramirez, of Mexico City, was visiting family in Red Deer and won the 10K, and Claude Duret, president of the Red Deer Runners, won the 5K. Fastest team went to Team Rockstar and the heart award went to Rodney Greaves.